Youth's Magazine,  3rd ser. 4 (1831), 198–204.

The Principle of Repulsion



Short Fiction


Heat, Dynamics, Controversy, Morality, Disease

    Augusta Sidney and her brother Alfred are having an argument about whether heat is 'the universal principle of repulsion', which Augusta claims is what Alfred's tutor taught them in a lecture the previous night. Alfred argues that sometimes repulsion is due to other causes, explaining that while 'heat, in expanding bodies, must increase the distance between their particles, the very same thing takes place in the act of freezing, where cold is the agent'. Augusta becomes heated, and asks her father: 'Papa, is not heat the principle of repulsion, is it not a repellant?'. (198) Her father suggests that her 'intemperate heat' is in danger of repelling her friends, and, when she protests heatedly, sends her to her room (199). She is penitent, and her father rejoices to see broken 'those swelling tumours, which so often destroy the health of [her] soul' (202). He tells her that she was 'so far right' in her opinion of natural heat that under different circumstances he would have 'commended her attention'. He explains that the 'the general effect of heat is to produce extension' , and that 'some writers use the terms heat and calorific repulsion as synonymous', but continues that Alfred was right in observing that the power of repulsion also exists in other causes, and reports that heat 'sometimes possesses a contrary quality'. (203)

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